Tonight for Homework: read the article you were assigned for homework; summarize the excerpt directly
below. Be prepared to share your thoughts about the excerpt with your group.
Suetonius, The Lives of the Caesars
The Life of Nero
31 There was nothing however in which he was more ruinously prodigal than in building. He made a palace
extending all the way from the Palatine to the Esquiline, which at first he called the House of Passage, but
when it was burned shortly after its completion and rebuilt, the Golden House. Its size and splendour will be
sufficiently indicated by the following details. Its vestibule was large enough to contain a colossal statue of the
emperor •a hundred and twenty feet high; and it was so extensive that it had a triple colonnade a mile long.
There was a pond too, like a sea, surrounded with buildings to represent cities, besides tracts of country,
varied by tilled fields, vineyards, pastures and woods, with great numbers of wild and domestic animals. In the
rest of the house all parts were overlaid with gold and adorned with gems and mother-of-pearl. There were
dining-rooms with fretted ceils of ivory, whose panels could turn and shower down flowers and were fitted
with pipes for sprinkling the guests with perfumes. The main banquet hall was circular and constantly
revolved day and night, like the heavens. He had baths supplied with sea water and sulphur water. When the
edifice was finished in this style and he dedicated it, he deigned to say nothing more in the way of approval
than that he was at least a beginning to be housed like a human being.
What does this excerpt tell you about Nero?
Suetonius: De Vita Caesarum--Domitianus, c. 110 C.E. http://www.fordham.edu/Halsall/ancient/suet-
domitian-rolfe.html, Translated by J. C. Rolfe.
X. He put to death many senators, among them several ex-consuls, including Civica Cerealis, at the very time
when he was proconsul in Asia; Salvidienus Orfitus; Acilius Glabrio, while he was in exile---these on the
ground of plotting revolution, the rest on any charge, however trivial.
XII. Reduced to financial straits by the cost of his buildings and shows, as well as by the additions which he
had made to the pay of the soldiers, he tried to lighten the military expenses by diminishing the number of his
troops; but perceiving that in this way he exposed himself to the attacks of the barbarians, and nevertheless
had difficulty in easing his burdens, he had no hesitation in resorting to every sort of robbery. The property
of the living and the dead was seized everywhere on any charge brought by any accuser.
What does this excerpt tell you about Domitian?
Suetonius (c.69-after 122 CE):
De Vita Caesarum: Caius Caligula
(The Lives of the Caesars: Caius Caligula), written c. 110 CE
XXVII. The following are special instances of his innate brutality. When cattle to feed the wild beasts
which he had provided for a gladiatorial show were rather costly, he selected criminals to be devoured,
and reviewing the line of prisoners without examining the charges, but merely taking his place in the
middle of a colonnade, he bade them be led away "from baldhead to baldhead." A man who had made a
vow to fight in the arena if the emperor recovered, he compelled to keep his word, watched him as he
fought sword in hand, and would not let him go until he was victorious, and then only after many
entreaties. Another who had offered his life for the same reason, but delayed to kill himself, he turned
over to his slaves, with orders to drive him through the streets decked with sacred boughs and fillets,
calling for the fulfilment of his vow, and finally hurl him from the embankment. Many men of honorable
rank were first disfigured with the marks of branding-irons and then condemned to the mines, to work at
building roads, or to be thrown to the wild beasts; or else he shut them up in cages on all fours, like
animals, or had them sawn asunder. Not all these punishments were for serious offences, but merely for
criticizing one of his shows, or for never having sworn by his Genius. He forced parents to attend the
executions of their sons, sending a litter for one man who pleaded ill health, and inviting another to dinner
immediately after witnessing the death, and trying to rouse him to gaiety and jesting by a great show of
What does this excerpt tell you about Caligula?